You’ll never know if you don’t try! Student Ambassador, Alyssa Abruzzese, faced the unknown moving from the US to Dublin, but has found a second home in the friendly and picturesque Irish capital.

Growing up, my father would often tell my sisters and I that it is always so important to keep an open mind. He would comment that what you hear and see isn’t necessarily what you may experience, and that was so true when I settled in Dublin last September!  

I was raised in the United States, specifically outside the city of Boston, so very accustomed to urban life. I remember thinking of Ireland as a country that was covered in lush green farmland and pubs from one end of the island to another! And, while you will see a pub on almost every corner and miles of greenery, I have discovered that the Emerald Isle has so much more to offer than what I had anticipated.    

I live two blocks away from Grafton Street, one of the busiest streets in Dublin. It is almost impossible to walk down this street without recognising someone you know. The city may be the largest in Ireland, but still offers a perfect example of a tight knit community. One of the major perks of living in a small city is that I am within walking distance to anything and everything. Dublin is a bustling city that is very lively especially on the weekends. 

Contrary to what I originally thought, the city is more cultured than what I had expected which has made the experience of living here so much more fascinating.  The Irish people are proud of their heritage.  There are castles, museums, statutes, etc. that highlight their history over hundreds of years.  They have many different churches and food from all over the world.  The city is so welcoming to all walks of life and backgrounds which makes it the perfect place for people to just be themselves.  

The view from Killiney Hill (photo: Alyssa)

I had always imagined that Irish people were warm and friendly, and am happy to confirm that I have found this to be very true!  Shopkeepers and waitstaff will often ask where I am from when they hear my Boston accent, and will then immediately reply, “You are very welcome here!” This is a far cry from living in the Northeast of the United States where people are more reserved and aloof.  Although it can be at times difficult being far from home, the friendliness and kindness of the community have made this transition so much easier for me to adjust to living here. 

One of the major differences between Dublin and cities such as Boston is how at home you feel. When overlooking Dublin from my favourite hiking spot, Killiney Hill, the city looks like a small neighbourhood. While overlooking the city of Boston from Harvard University’s Arboretum, the large skyscrapers are so large and captivating that it is so easy to feel more like a number than a name. 

This experience of moving to Europe by myself had a lot of unknowns, but a lot of exciting opportunities.  One of the major challenges I faced was whether or not I would be able to fit in, and would I be able to live here for a year.  The truth is, I do fit in, and I enjoy living here. I won’t sugar-coat it. It can be difficult and lonely being 3,000 miles away from home, but what helps me get through these hard times is knowing that I am doing exactly what I always wanted to do. 

I believe that you need to take risks, even do things that scare you at times.  But, knowing that I am surrounded by people who are friendly and considerate makes it less scary and more entertaining every day.  I highly recommend learning more about studying in Ireland!  

Alyssa is studying International Business at UCD Smurfit Business School.